Just before Christmas, as we were writing out the Christmas cards, there was a
sudden burst of inspiration.
Why not invite all the neighbours around?
Well, in reality it wasn’t quite that simple. You see, we’d been thinking
about how busy life is nowadays, and how rarely we get chance to have a
conversation with our neighbours.
Oh, we do have the “over the garden fence” conversation with the next door neighbour, and ocassionally shout “Hi” to the neighbours across the road.
But the normal level of neighbour interraction is a wave through the car window
as we drive past.
So we were looking for a way of getting to know the neighbours better, and to
create an opportunity for everyone to get together.
So this is what we did…
We made a few invitation cards on the computer.
The invitations simply invited people to an evening of mince pies and mulled wine, round at our house. There was no RSVP to it – just a simple “turn up anytime after 7:30pm”.
We placed the invitations inside the Christmas cards and popped them through the neighbours’ letter boxes.
And we waited….
The big day arrived. “Who’ll turn up tonight?” we asked each other?
7:30… Floors had been vacuumed, chairs were suitably arranged, music was
playing on the hi-fi.
“Hmm… no-one here yet,” we noticed, looking around at the empty chairs.
“Never mind. We hadn’t set a specific time…”
We began to discuss what we would do with all the mince pies and bottles of mulled wine.
At 7:45, the door bell rang. It was the first couple from across the road.
Suddendly it seemed like the gates had been opened and soon we had 18
neighbours in our lounge, overflowing into the hall.
With the Christmas tree twinkling away in the corner, a large tray of mince
pies being passed around, and everyone holding a glass of mulled wine (or warm
Vimto), the atmosphere had a very Christmassy festive feel.
We had a laugh about things that had happened in the Grove over the years. We
remembered the community spirit 2 years before when we’d dug each other out
after the heavy snowfall. We found out how the neighbours who’d emigrated to
Australia were getting along. We talked about our jobs and what it was like to
Multiple conversations were going on at the same time. Some neighbours knew
each other quite well; others had only waved to each other in passing. But we
were all talking, and getting on “like a house on fire” as my mum used to say.
Then one of the neighbours turned to me and said “Thank you”.
“What a fantastic evening we’ve had,” he said. “We’ll have to do this more
“How about doing this again next year?” piped up someone else across the room.
Our plan had worked. We’d got lots of the neighbours togther. Everyone was
talking. There was a great community spirit. And all had enjoyed it.
And all it had taken was was some mince pies and a few bottles of mulled wine.
Oh, and some oranges to slice up and brighten up the glasses.
Entertainment? Everyone who came along provided that. It was spontaneous,
real, fun, and suitable for all ages.
Enough seating? No! But people of all ages were happy to stand, with a glass
in hand, just chatting.
I hope that’s inspired you.
Why not do the same yourself next Christmas? We probably will.
But none of us need to wait until Christmas to get the neighbours together.
There’s Easter. Most people are off work. What about having a hot cross buns
and wine evening. Or an Easter Bunny chocolate lovers eveining.
Maybe the weather could just be suitable for a barbecue.
You could also combine the evening with a charity event. Often that will
attract people who are keen to support worthwhile causes.
On Friday 26th April 2013, the McMillan Cancer charity are holding “A Good
Night In“. Their web site describes it “You don’t have to run. You don’t have
to get sweaty. All you have to do is get together with the people you love
Sounds ideal to me.
So if you want to get to know your neighbours better, create or enhance a good
community spirit, and get the neighbours to like you at the same time, why not
give some thought to having a neighbours’ evening.
You and your neighbours will probably remember an event like that for a long
time to come.
We certainly have.